New Zealand's government has ordered an independent review of the police handling of a case involving the alleged rape of underage girls by teenage boys who then boasted about it on the internet.
Police minister Anne Tolley has asked the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) to investigate the force's handling of the so-called Roast Busters case.
It is alleged the teenagers enticed underage girls to get drunk, had group sex with them, then posted details of their so-called conquests on social media.
'He is arrogant and incredibly silly and an idiot and the bragging sort of thing is really disgusting.' - stepfather of one alleged Roast Buster
Police say they have known for two years about the group of 17- and 18-year-old boys, but say they did not have enough evidence to mount a prosecution because none of the alleged victims had made a formal complaint.
However, it was revealed this week that police did receive a formal complaint in 2011 and had spoken informally with three other alleged victims.
"Parents of young girls need to have confidence that complaints to police about sexual assault are investigated thoroughly and appropriately," Ms Tolley said.
"As minister, I can't delve into the details of a police investigation ... but the IPCA does have the power to carry out an independent assessment of the details surrounding these events. "And I believe this is the right course of action to ensure the public has confidence in the police on this matter."
Tolley summoned police commissioner Peter Marshall to a "please-explain" meeting. She said he had "again assured me that this inquiry has been thorough, and that there was a comprehensive investigation into the victim's complaint". "However, I have made it clear to the commissioner that I am disappointed that the full facts have not been available to me or to him," she added.
A 15-year-old girl told New Zealand's 3 News that she had complained to police about a sexual assault two years ago and was subjected to police questioning about her clothes, and suggestions that she had been "asking for it."
The mother and stepfather of one of the Roast Busters, Beraiah Hales, say they do not believe he is a rapist. "He is arrogant and incredibly silly and an idiot and the bragging sort of thing is really disgusting," his stepfather told Television New Zealand’s One News. But he added: "We don’t really think he is capable of that sort of thing [rape]." They said Beraiah, now 17, had been a troubled teenager and is estranged from his family.
The Roast Busters web page was taken down only recently after a media complaint to Facebook. A new page has popped up this week claiming to be a revival of the group. It says, "We're back. Happy roasting." The page had more than 1,100 likes, but most of the user comments are negative, including many comments calling for violent revenge.